Alexs muchbetter guide to La Clusaz
Why La Clusaz?
Unlike a lot of the best ski resorts in France, amazingly La Clusaz has managed to avoid being overcome with Brits every winter. Not that that is always a bad thing. It does however mean you feel like you are skiing in France, not a strange suburb of London, you dont usually have to wait for a ski lift, and you can normally hunt down some fresh tracks even the day AFTER a snow fall! Yep, La Clusaz is the hidden skiing gem fast losing that status as people realise what they are missing. Being only and hour from Geneva and half hour from Annecy (on the TGV line), La Clusaz is so easy to get to as well. Ignore people who tell you its too low. That is a strange rumor, seeing as it runs up to 2500m (like the Portes de Soleil), is largely on north facing slopes, and gets tons of snow due to its position as the first major chain of the Alps.
Thats just the winter. Summers in La Clusaz are awesome too road biking, mountain biking, climbing, hiking, paragliding, kayaking and cliff jumping on lake Annecy and cruising around the town drinking in the outdoor cafes all evening.
Favorite spot for skiing in La Clusaz?
La Balme, Torchere, La Balme, Torchere. Not exactly original, but when the resort is quiet (most of the time if you avoid weekends and mid Feb) you can grab line after line of great off piste skiing right from the chairlifts. Open faces, through the trees, off natural kickers and small drop offs, and with 1200m of vertical, every ski run turns into a mini adventure!
La Clusaz has loads of really fun terrain to ski in other areas, especially around Etale and Fernuy, and there are whole new bowls easily accessible if you put in a few short hikes. I shouldnt say too much though you need to go and find it for yourself!
If you are sticking to the pistes, Fernuy is a classic red, and the blues and reds runs around Etale and Merdassier are good fun. Nice and sunny over there, with some great spots for a coffee. Stop by the Telemark caf if you get a chance there is a great vibe there.
Favorite road biking near La Clusaz?
The Col de la Colombiere is a classic col often seen on the Tour de France. This col can be done on a 65km road biking loop from La Clusaz down to Bonneville, and along the valley to pick up the start of the col. The climb is 17km and 12% in places. You crest above Chinallion and Grand Bornand, which offers a fun high speed descent back to town.
My favourite road cycling route though is probably to cycle down to Annecy via Thones, alongside the Annecy lake to Faverges and back up the Col de Marais to Thones. 81km, and no big climbs in it, but just stunning scenery and villages all the way.
Favorite places to grab some food in La Clusaz?
The best bakery is definitely Le Belier, on the main street through town. Pain au chocolat to die for.
For a quick bite, the hot sandwiches from the hatch next to Marche U as you go up the hill from the bottom of town are well worth the money.
In the evenings, a lot of the restaurants in La Clusaz serve similar Savoyard menus lots of cheese, raclette, tartiflette and meats on the menu. I usually find Le Fermier is well worth the trip up the road (it is under the telecabine running up the main slope into town) – great atmosphere and good food.
Favorite places for a drink in La Clusaz?
The Bonnet Danne just off the main square usually has a pretty lively atmosphere and good music, and is handy for rolling into LEcluse, one of the 2 nightclubs. Up the hill, Le Bachal and Caves de Pacally are great if you have a full wallet you need to empty, and Saltos is perfect if you crave a more Anglo-Gaelic atmosphere Pool, Guinness and football are normally on tap.
Whats the best time of year to come to La CLusaz?
If you are skiing, January promises good snow and almost empty slopes, as does March, though with a bit more warmth in the sun. Great ski touring to be had March and April.
Summers in La Clusaz and around are stunning for about 8 weeks in Late June to Late August – plenty going on, beautiful weather and a chilled out atmosphere. Inter seasons are really very quiet, like a lot of resorts in the Alps.
La Clusaz is home to the Defy Foly one of the maddest events in the Alps. At the end of the winter, dozens of people ski straight down hill into a partially frozen lake, hitting speeds of over 120km/hour, to compete for the dubious honour of being the person to glide furthest across it. Worth seeing.
Interested in visiting La Clusaz?
Check out all the friendly, local and independent accommodation, operators, guides, schools and bars in La Clusaz. Also, have a look at the ski chalets in France page, for more information.
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